RACE: Dallas District Attorney Supports Racial Justice Act for Texas

Dallas County (Texas) District Attorney Craig Watkins said he plans to advocate for a state law to allow death row inmates to appeal their conviction or sentence using studies showing that racial bias affected the process. Such laws have been passed in North Carolina and Kentucky and are referred to as a "Racial Justice Act." Watkins said, “Throughout history, race has unfortunately played a part, an ugly part, in our criminal justice system. This is an opportunity for us to address not only the past, and those individuals who are still being affected by the disparities in treatment, but also in looking forward to make sure that we don’t have those same disparities in our criminal justice system.” A 2008 study in Texas conducted by a University of Denver professor revealed that black defendants in Harris County, which includes Houston, were more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants. Watkins added, “I’m just of the opinion that if we’re going to seek it that it has to be fairly administrated. No matter where you come from, what you look like, it has to be fairly administrated.”

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NEW RESOURCES: New Death Sentencing Information for 2012
Sentences 2012
Click to enlarge.
(graphic: 50 other counties produced 1 death sentence each)

The Death Penalty Information Center is pleased to offer a new resource page on death sentences in 2012. Seventy-eight (78) people were sentenced to death in 2012, the second lowest number of sentences since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Of those sentenced, 3 were women; 49% were black; 40% were white. Four states (FL, CA, TX, and PA) were responsible for 65% of the death sentences, and only 9 counties produced over a third of the death sentences in the country. Information is provided on the name, race, state, and county for each defendant. A downloadable spreadsheet enables sorting by each of these categories. Click here for our Death Sentences in 2012 page.

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